How do you want to be remembered?
July 2019 turned out to be a memorable month for my family. It was not because our country celebrated the 50th anniversary of our landing on the moon. Or that we honored the three American heroes who made that journey, or even that Neil Armstrong spoke his world-famous words: “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.”
As great a feat as that event is in our memories, my family had another reason. They mourned the death of James, a cheerful and likable family member, who put up an enormous fight against cancer.
Maybe for most of the world James wasn’t a hero of astronaut stature, but to his family, he was a hero for doing ordinary things the best he could. James was a caring, sincere, husband, and an easy-going family man. To his friends, he was a humble guy who knew who he was and was content to be that person.
It’s easy to pass off his death as minor in comparison to Neil Armstrong’s triumph, except for one outstanding thing. Like Neil, James uttered immortal words which remain as a lasting testament to his life and character.
As James moved closer to his final days with us, I asked him: “What do you want me to say in my homily to those who come to say farewell to you?” He didn’t stammer or hesitate. He simply said, “Tell them I am ready. And that I am grateful.”
How valiant and humble. It was not full of excuses, regrets, or should-haves. He was leaving all that was familiar with contentment and peace. I looked at James and thought Mother Teresa couldn’t have said it better. God will be delighted to welcome James home!
For all of James’ family still here, his words are a gift we can model in our lives. It is a legacy we can aim for; namely, preparing for our final days and being grateful. And like James, we can start right now in this present moment. It doesn’t matter the number of years lived, but how we live the one we are living today that counts.
If James could do that, we can too. We simply make a fresh start with each day! Doesn’t Scripture remind us that the Lord rains His grace on the good and the bad equally and the same with each new dawn? He does this because He loves us and keeps giving us opportunities to be better than we are at any given moment.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.